One of the most underrated parts of trading Ryan Dzingel to the Columbus Blue Jackets was Anthony Duclair. Yes, the two 2nd round picks were nice for the Ottawa Senators. However, they also got a very interesting piece in Anthony Duclair. He is an RFA at the end of the season, meaning he is cost controlled going forward. As well, he may want to stay in Ottawa because he may just get some big minutes.
Duclair has bounced around lots of NHL teams, often because he can’t find any consistency. He has tons of potential, however, is often described as someone who doesn’t always put the effort in. In Ottawa, Anthony Duclair has a chance to turn his career around. Let’s take a look at how and why, and what he has done since arriving.
Anthony Duclair was drafted 80th overall by the New York Rangers in 2013. After a decent start to a rookie season and a very promising World Jr Championships with Canada, Duclair found himself back down in the QMJHL. He had just seven points in 18 games with the Rangers. Not bad for a rookie, however, his two-way game was lacking.
Duclair was then traded to the Arizona Coyotes where he spent parts of three seasons. His “breakout” year came in 2015-16 when he had 44 points in 82 games. The following year, however, he just couldn’t follow that up. With just 15 points in 58 games, he also saw a stint down in the AHL. This is where some real consistency problems started to show.
The Chicago Blackhawks then acquired him, where he once again just couldn’t seem to put it together. Duclair had eight points in 23 games and was not given another contract offer. The Columbus Blue Jackets then signed him to a one-year deal near the league minimum.
His time in Columbus saw him have 19 points in 53 games. However, he was not always in favour of coach John Tortorella. Tortorella almost scratched him and ripped him for how he plays. Once traded, Torts said on the 31 Thoughts Podcast that he did call Duclair and wished him all the best in figuring out his full game.
So, we have seen Duclair’s path, what about his potential?
Duclair is known for being a guy full of skill. He has some speed and vision on the ice and a decent shot to go along with it. Through tracking data, we can see that he was very good at zone exits and entries. It is no doubt he has all the potential to be a legit contributor on an NHL team.
Evolving Hockey’s GAR model has had him as an above average player for the last two seasons. With this season being almost right at the level of replacement. Meaning, he has been an OK player. His troubles have just come putting this together for a full season. As well, as most people who have watched him will tell you at times he needs to play smarter.
How He Can Improve
Building off of what others say, I asked fellow LWOH writer William Grigsby what his thoughts on Duclair were. He covers the Coyotes for the site so he watched him for a few years while he was there. His thoughts were, “Duclair needs more than big minutes, he needs to learn defensive responsibility.” He also went on to say this about his time in both Arizona and Columbus, “his lack of defence got him benched & and in Torts’ doghouse. Does he have speed? Yes… but he hasn’t matured.”
This all does seem like fair criticism of Duclair. It does also lineup with what most coaches have said of him. Duclair’s two-way game is lacking. On top of that, the effort doesn’t always appear to be there.
Buckling down and focusing on his consistency is key for Duclair. If he can make sure he is being more responsible at all ends of the ice, points will also come. When you get into good habits in your own end of the ice, it will translate to both ends. Duclair has the shooting talent to be a solid NHL player, he just needs to put it all together.
Time With Ottawa
Anthony Duclair has played just three games with the Senators this season. In those three games, he has just one goal, however, has been one of Ottawa’s most dynamic players. So far, Ottawa has seen the player that has shown his talent. Now, he needs to keep this game going.
In these three games, he has had a team-leading 54CF%. Meaning, the Sens have been controlling the play while he is on the ice. This has seen him lead the forwards in TOI/GP because of his great play. He has averaged 14:13 a night at 5v5. As well as 16:23 in all situations. Former coach Guy Boucher clearly put some trust in him. it seems like a safe bet that new coach Marc Crawford will as well.
As previously stated, Duclair has been a standout in his short time in Ottawa. So, let’s take a look at some of those highlights. Starting with his first goal in a Senators uniform.
Anthony Duclair scores on the PP! His first. #GoSensGo make it 2-0 over #AllCaps pic.twitter.com/gAVVjXPOsi
— Alex M (@nhlsensandstuff) February 27, 2019
A very nice heads up shot by Duclair, something the Sens hope to see more of. He really has a chance to slide into the Sens PP and be a very viable option. His release can allow him to shoot it from the high circle as he did here. Making him a threat the other team has to cover.
Duclair hits the post! #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/gfHRxiQ2bv
— Alex M (@nhlsensandstuff) February 25, 2019
This one stings because the Flames came down and scored the game-winner right after. However, this is another great example of Duclair using his skill set in a good way. He uses his speed to get by the defender and gets a great chance on the breakaway. He has the goalie beat but just can’t beat the post. It is safe to assume if he keeps doing this he will find the back of the net.
Duclair with a nice steal on the backcheck here. Have liked how he’s looked tonight. #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/w9tKhEWZAn
— Alex M (@nhlsensandstuff) February 25, 2019
Lastly, we have my favourite for Anthony Duclair in a Sens’ uniform. A hard backcheck on a puck he coughed up leads to a takeaway. This is exactly the kind of effort he needs to put in 100% of the time. It’s plays like this that people need to see from him constantly to make him a permanent NHL’er. A great backcheck and defensive play to fix a mistake.
Overall, Anthony Duclair has a great chance to revive his career with Ottawa. He will no doubt get lots of playing time if he stays. As well, being on a team that isn’t expected to do much can take the nerves off a player. He won’t feel like he “has” to produce and he can focus on keeping it simple. All of this could lead to him becoming a useful NHL player.
No matter if he stays long-term in Ottawa or goes elsewhere, this really is a pivotal time in his career.